Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Back to the Black

At left, a Winston Boron IIIx with a Douglas Argus reel sporting a Wulff TT line ... all in 4 wt.

I'll use this as my back-up gear in the event of drizzle or anything more serious. I hate getting cane wet. I always think I'll damage something pulling one apart.

Opener in a few days on the Black River. Can't wait. Prepping gear. Stacking the load-out. Scanning the forecast for wind, rain, temps.

It'll be frosty in the mornings. The wind should be low and so I'm dumping the low profile backpacking spike-camp tent for the large safari-style number: a Nemo Dark Timber.(here).

The Black is an unassuming little river here in Michigan.

It is full of these fat little guys. I will say, they are slippery little buggars. Extra slime on them which I will assume is a sign of cold-water health. I'll do net-pics this year.

This guy was pretty typical of my last opener at the Black River.








A low profile shot of the Black showing the standard bottom. Small cobble with spots of gravel interspersed dominates the streambed. There is little agriculture as the river flows through forest and the logging is controlled now to areas away from the stream. There isn't a lot of run off silt/sand.

Water will be high so hopefully fishing the bank-line and close-in current seams will prove productive. I'm expecting to have to do some contact nymphing.

It's an excuse to shout "spring" at the top of my lungs.

It's been a longish dull winter here. I could use the uncertain joy of unexpectedly warm afternoons.

Prost.


Sunday, April 21, 2019

The Hope in a Brook Trout

At left, an over-hackled Hornberg. This is tied on a 12 2XL dry fly hook.

I will use this fly and its cousins in the Catskills here in a couple weeks. I can't wait to try them out.

They are truly unfaithful Hornbergs. I do however like them.

We'll see what the brook trout say, It's the only way to be sure.



Season opens here for me next Saturday. I am camping for trout. I spent this evening assembling the camping gear.

I'm at the cusp of spring with dogwoods starting to bloom, the daffodils in the yard up through a new layer of mulch, and much of the world unchanged from my boyhood.

Chaos. Distrust. Dislike. Hatred. Dissent.

We say these words but they're inadequate. We're animals. We're vicious animals.

Mind, we bite.

There ought to be a billboard out in space warning potential visitors of the fact.

What I enjoy is the promise of the new season. I look forward to solitude and companionship on the water both. I look forward to another summer of campfires, fine scotch, and a pipe. I look forward to the brook trout in my net because it is always a surprise when I manage to land a trout. Every time: a surprise.

What we talk about when we talk about the trout.

For me, it's the hope that I never stop being amazed by the little things as unimportant as a fish in the net and that in the end, I might see past other things that I think are important but which in fact are not.

I know the joy of trout in my net and that the whole operation from the cast, to the hook up, to the stumbling play of the fish to just within my reach is the same emotional base as with the women in my life I've come to love.

It makes me think the whole art of catching was the fish's idea: an incredibly absurd perspective.

No reasoned creature would sacrifice itself in sport just to give a moment's happiness to another not knowing if the end was the frying pan, or a release back into the stream.



I've been tying.


A nice little #16 fat body flymph in olive.
 












 Another olive this time wire-wrapped and wearing dry fly hackle.
A sparse olive passing for a Hendrickson (waxed and thus my light changed significantly) also wire wrapped but with the hackle of a north country spider.











May all your trout be fat and happy.

Prost.

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Scud Buggin'

Left: size 20 SH scud in olive.

The upper East Branch of the Delaware has a great deal of vegetation. Pictures from late spring and summer resemble the weed beds of chalk streams.

I tied these tiny olive scuds with thick thread bodies and translucent synthetic hare's ear dubbing. In the water, these look pretty buggy.

Okay, so in a water glass they look pretty buggy.

I've got more conventional scud and Syl's midges on emerger hooks in 17 and 15. Just in case, I wanted something really tiny and alive for those morning when the trout are laying around not yet having had their first cup of coffee. I wanted something that might remind them that they were always hungry. Sometimes they forget.

Trout in the Driftless love scud. I'm hoping Delaware trout do as well.

I'll use a tiny ball of sticky tungsten putty on my leader-tippet knot if I need to drift this lower in the water column. I plan on fishing it upstream as I would a dry fly quartering the stream and drifting beside weed beds and submerged rock.

I'll start putting camping gear together for the month's end opener here tonight. We'll see what the weather brings. I could use some tent time and a nice morning fry-up.

I can smell the cottage fries simmering in bacon grease already.

Prost.



Friday, April 12, 2019

Trout Dreams

You know the ones. 

It's morning and the camp coffee is in your hand.  You poured it from the percolator that is now beside the hat-full of fire someone started from last night's coals.

There's a light drizzle on and it is cool but in the dream, you're dry and toasty from the bed quilt at home. Camp seems the half-dawn stage between the early crew and the late-abed: the midlands of dreamtime.

You might stroll down the river lane from camp where one or two of your buddies are already on the water. Sometimes you hear them calling to one another as barking dogs in the distance. 

The river's surface is dimpled with the tiniest drops from the misty bits and fish are rising. Lots of fish are rising.

Your buddy calls up in a voice filled with smile that they're taking whatever it was you were tying last night. Your flies. They're taking just your flies.

That's a great dream. Sometimes I get to the river with a rod in one paw and a biscuit in the other. Sometimes, just the coffee. Still, great dream.

Size 17 Bear Paw Adams in the vise. The head on this one is off-sized because I broke the thread on the final wraps and had to remediate. I think the large head helps anyway.

He's bushy, floats like a cork, and trimmed below the hook gap sits nicely in the film from the beginning making a moire pattern which is a trick in drawing up the fish.

I love a good coachman -- the herl, you know -- but the Bear Paw Adams (tied with all the grace of a bear paw) is a buggy fly that worked fine for me three years ago and so is again gracing my box.

A guide friend looks at 'em and says "Kinda fat ..." in a restrained sort of appraisal. The over-sized hackle (hackle gauge? Pftttth,), tubby dubbing job, general displacement of a medium-sized frigate, and aerodynamic properties of a penguin are all elements of charm.  

His flies only ever look like the ones in pictures and he whips the bastards out even in size 17-18 with astonishing speed.  

The perspective of professional fishermen comes close to the fashion magazine effect: no woman looking at a fashion magazine ever feels good about herself next to those beauties. 

I say it's all the better those women in magazines aren't real. Like the ancient Greeks, we'd be pushing off too many warships from the shore in the morning to have time for important things. 

Like lazy trout dreams.

Prost.  



Saturday, April 6, 2019

Where's the Bear?

At left a fly box loaded for bear.

I'm tying for an expedition so of course I have nearly full boxes. The right flies? Soft-hackles of course so: yes.

I'm at the desk tonight tying small dries. A friend wrote about travel for trout. "Destination trout" he called them. They might become my favorite.

I've never been one for the casual afternoon of fishing.

I have a river full of smallmouth only a couple hundred yards down the hill yet I'm not often there in the park fishing. I like the flavor of distance, the anticipation, the special sense of the unknown when I travel for trout.

I like the camping, the morning campfire, and coffee too hot to guzzle as the biscuits start their slow bake.

These events echo the magic in my trout fishing. They're intangible comforts that are intensely personal. I will share a hot biscuit if you stop by my camp, however.

I seldom find the fish rising behind the sweeper in the foam seam. I fish to habitat and take my share of unseen fish. I'm seldom sure the fish is there. The anticipation and uncertainty brings me onto the game.

I'm excited about a New York outing and before that my own state's opener.

I'll be a little more cautious about the conditions I'm willing to chance this year.

Last year's opener:


I'm hoping that we experience a little less immodest weather.

Prost.

UPDATE: There I was tying along when I think I broke the jaws on my Peak vise last night. I'm so disappointed.

I'm having a little trouble finding an exploded diagram of the thing to diagnose. I'll take it to the Grotto tonight and see if it is actually broken or if something came undone inside. Somebody there will know.

I feel like I broke a favorite Christmas present!


















Thursday, April 4, 2019

Midge Me.

Photo of midges from US Fish and Wildlife,Tom Koerner.

Saw my first midge swarm here last night as I was doing brush control clean-up from work I deferred in the fall. Better now. A couple small fires to burn of the brush yet to go. I like to burn when it is wet just on principle and it should rain slowly all day Sunday.

I'm prepping for a spring trip to the Catskills and am tying generic dark Adams, light Adams, and Borcher Specials.

I'm only crowding the eye with the hackle on about one out of six flies.

Tomorrow night starts the epic "size #18" sessions. I figure a week of those and I'll be good to go. I'm good on classic soft hackle flies to use on the classic dry fly streams. I'm that sort of guy.

I have materials for Quill Gordons. I should work some up but it really isn't my sort of fly. Now, the Hornberg is much more to my liking.

I'm going to tie some Hornberg's this month and post them for inspection.

Lastly, as the water finally drains from the ice rink in our little park here in Dexter, a bunch of locals are going to have a "run what you brung" 4wt casting session on one of these Saturday's before season. There is a pretty nice stable of rods in this crew -- cane, mostly -- and some of it was hard to come by.

Not many Garrison's and Gillum's hanging on just every wall.

My local fly shop will bring over the latest crop of the usual from Winston, Hardy, Douglas, Echo, and others. We'll all drool over the lovely finish and shine then pick up our own epic rods and put tufts of wool onto dinner plates. Maybe a couple on the backcast in the oak that has grown a bit these last few years.

I was impressed with a Hardy 3 wt last week that I think would reliably go 60' in a pinch. Feels like a 3 wt. Casts like a 5 wt. The tip might be too stiff for 12" on #7 tippet. Not sure. Would have to put a fish on it to see which I think is the true case in any decent rod.

A broom handle can be made to make a nice presentation with the proper touch. It doesn't help when the fish is thinking of that last splashy turn.

I need what we all need: less gear, more days on the water. 

Prost.







Sunday, March 17, 2019

Well Aware of the Delaware

At left from the Metropolitan Museum of Art: the Emanuel Leutze image of Washington crossing the Delaware River ... which we all know is a complete fabrication.

Oh, George crossed the river on the way to a devastating victory over the Hessians.

George was in a deep funk over the coming battle and certainly wasn't standing the breeze. Some of his troops died of exposure -- and probably pneumonia -- on the ensuing march from the far bank into town.  The winter was brutal. Accounts of the time reveal the whole affair to have been a miserable, horrid endeavor which resulted in an early victory the American revolution desperately needed.

My spring trip is to the Delaware -- east and west branches -- the Beaverkill, and the Neversink.  I just signed up for the trip this week. I said "yes" formally only yesterday.

I'm hoping for better weather than ol' George endured.

My arsenal will be better than his as I'll take a battery of rods for two-handed trout streamers, light-line spring creek brookies, and the usual suspects for four and five weight spring hatches. I'm going for the famed Hendrickson blizzard but will be equally prepared for the disappointment of BWOs (Ha!) or the more traditional spring experience: PTN and Hare's Ear flymphs vacuuming the river bottom as I re-develop my short-line nymphing feel.

It's been a long winter and the ice is off the meadow here. We're due another good snow or two before true spring -- and maybe one in the spring -- but the worst is past.

I've been hiding from my vise only tying socially in Monday night sessions at the Beer Grotto in Dexter. There's nothing remarkable to say of those sessions as I'm just replenishing my soft-hackle inventory.

I've been heads down at the day job cleaning up a couple major projects and discovering that I'm in the wrong band. I'm watching the unchanging momentum of the same ineffectual effort driving disappointing results. Alas, the needed change can only be wrought by broken bones and hurt feelings and that is not the manner in which our little tribe operates.

So, trout.

The trout, the trout, the trout.

I'm interested in the dry-fly pilgrimage to the Catskills more for a hike into the Neversink Unique Area than for the photo-op at the Junction Pool or Mr. Hendrickson's Pool. I will however fish the upper east and west Delaware, the Beaverkill, and trek into the gorge of the Unique Area for a little Neversink brook trout fun.

I haven't been on the water since October.

I'm working up some brook trout plans on the Black River here for the April opener in Michigan.

I'm researching a self-guided trip to  the U.P. featuring the Ontanogon River in the Porcupine Mountains for September after the "deerflies of summer have gone" -- to borrow from Mr. Henley.

It's been a long winter requiring me to get smarter (that hurts a little these days). I've spent a lot of time at the gym trying to run faster and farther because some of my desired fishing excursions are going to require a greater degree of fitness than I've enjoyed these past few years.

RMNP gassed me last year.

There are too many wonderful places that require more than a couple hours' hike to reach. Those are places I want to fish. I'm working on it. There is a series of 5K runs starting here in April through Thanksgiving. They'll put in in good stead for more serious conditioning in 2020.

Alaska, Scotland, B.C., and the golden trout of high altitude pocket lakes are on my list. I'm determined to not be the backcountry coronary guy.  Better endurance for me means more fun.

Hope the fish in your pool start looking up soon.

Prost.